“Make me an instrument of your peace,” we pray regularly in our parish. I wonder what instrument I would be in God’s orchestra – an oboe, a cello, or something else?
Following Jesus means playing a part in a gracious performance. The Holy Ghost makes beautiful movements, offers subtle directions, and provides new sheets of music, just as I believe I have run out of pages.
I would like to sit in the violin section, not in the first chair, but maybe in the third row. Not all of God’s instruments play a major role in solos. As a violin, I imagine a bow in the hand of the master musician who is holding me and pulling me closer. A melody resonates deep within me that I hardly recognize as God works to create dynamic movements.
When I was a month old my parents took me to baptism and the music reached a crescendo. But even before I was born, I collected grades for my role in God’s Symphony. Countless people prayed for me in the womb because my closest brother had a serious birth defect. I will never know all of the instruments of God’s grace that have influenced my life. My ancestors really knew how to, as St. Paul said, “speak to one another in psalms and hymns and sacred songs, sing and make melodies to the Lord with the heart”. (Ephesians 5:19, ESV) Our family sang together regularly.
Setting a passage to music helps me memorize the scriptures. Later, the melody and message appear without being asked, exactly when I need them. I felt music permeate my body with tangible sound waves. God works like that. I vibrate with gratitude for the Divine Presence. But I am not alone in my work. God is always with me, even when I stumble over the notes.
The psalms call for timpani and harps to praise the Creator. The harp could sit in the front and center, but even if it isn’t, its eye-catching shape cannot be missed. Some people are like that. Do I appreciate them even though we are very different? In an orchestra the harp only appears occasionally in the score, and yet its ethereal-sounding strings calm the listener.
On the other hand, it’s surprising when the timpani booms or cymbals clash. How often do these instruments sit and wait for their short but powerful contribution to the music! I am something beautiful in music, which is God’s creative self-expression. When asked to do so, we must play our part with passion.
Some days I feel like a baby who doesn’t notice the excitement of random pounding on the piano keys. And yet God works with such chaos.
Music is my favorite style of prayer. I wonder if Jesus played a simple instrument, had a good voice, and if he liked to sing. Then I think of the instruments that adorn my life, the people who produce the best music in me. I remember two particular confessors who served as instruments of grace, as sinful patterns threatened to overwhelm me. Her wise words led me back to the divine.
Participation in God’s symphony involves repetitions as key themes that weave in and out. God unites a diverse community to harmonize while God’s Son plays along.
Jesus, you are music to my ears, and oh how sweet the sound.